Anyone who has played Jenga (other versions of the game are available) will know how it works. The game begins with a neat, but perhaps unexciting, tower of blocks. Players take it in turns to remove a block and place it on top of the structure. As the game progresses, the tower gets taller and more impressive in many ways. At the start, it appears possible to remove foundational blocks without any serious impact and even when it looks incredibly unstable, blocks can still be removed and replaced on top. But eventually a block is removed, often one that appears unimportant, which destabilises the whole construction, and the blocks tumble to the ground.
Theological innovation is similar.
Initially, the removal of 'blocks' by questioning settled doctrine appears not to make much difference, and the newly constructed faith can even appear more interesting and more attractive. But eventually the whole edifice will collapse - and when it does it is easy to focus on the last 'block' to be removed - rather than notice all those that went before.
The headlines may shout, "Anglican groups revolt against same-sex blessing plan" or "Homophobic church withholds money" but that is to focus on the final 'block', rather than the decades long destruction of the foundational doctrines of the Church.
Thousands of pages have been written to explain how those who accept the blessing of same-sex relationships have already turned away from what Christians have always believed about many foundational ideas; the nature of men and women, marriage, creation and procreation; how we define sin and what we need saving from; the nature and authority of the Scriptures; and even our understanding of the Triune God. But these are the doctrinal 'blocks' which have been quietly removed and replaced over many years, often without much comment from evangelicals.
The question is what can the bishops do now? They have identified and begun to move the 'block' marked 'blessing those in same-sex relationships' - and many have greeted its removal with cheers and celebrations. Others have become aware of the instability of the superstructure and are "compelled to resist," in case it causes the whole fabric to collapse.
The rules of Jenga state, "Players may tap a block to find a loose one. Any blocks moved but not played should be replaced, unless doing so would make the tower fall."
And that is the problem the bishops really need to address. Whether they remove this 'block' or 'repent' and replace it - the tower is still likely to fall.
Because, as Jenga teaches us, it isn't just this block that is the problem.
Thanks to Valery Fedotov at Unsplash for the image
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